Democrats could potentially pass massive infrastructure bill without a single GOP vote

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough said Monday evening that Democrats can use budget reconciliation for a second time in fiscal year 2021, according to a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Democrats’ ability to use the legislative tool means that they could hypothetically pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill with a simple majority vote instead of the 60 votes required to override a filibuster. If reconciliation proceeds, then Democrats would have enough votes to pass Biden’s infrastructure and tax packages with Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote if every Senator in the party votes in favor.

“The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Schumer could also pass a third budget resolution in the fiscal year 2022, when Democrats will still have full control of Washington. His office had previously lobbied MacDonough that the majority could revise the 2021 resolution under Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

“This [ruling] confirms the Leader’s interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues,” the statement said.

Democrats previously used reconciliation to pass Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package March 11 over unanimous Republican objections. Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan would be funded largely by tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations, which Republicans have labeled as a non-starter.

Some Democrats have also objected to the bill as written, including West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who came out against the bill Monday.

“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin said. “It’s more than just me. There’s six or seven other Democrats who feel very strongly about this. We have to be competitive, and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind.”

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